Saturday, November 21, 2009

Uptown Girl

When I arrived at the apartment, my cab driver actually helped me get my things in the front door. I was floored. I haven't always had the best experiences with NYC cab drivers, but he was pretty cool. I'd been to my new apartment exactly once in my life... the day that my mom and I had gone to look for apartments in NYC. I was determined to find the right place, but I didn't have much time to do it. I'd gotten the offer and they didn't want to give me more than two weeks to end my job and get settled in NYC. Well, I negotiated like my life depended on it, because... well... really, it DID depend on it, and they agreed to give me three and a half weeks. I gave my former employer two weeks notice the next day, and then I planned to take a week to get settled in NYC before I started work.

But in order to be settled, I'd need a place to settle-in! Several friends told me that everyone uses Craig's List to find apartments in NYC. Who knew? I certainly had no idea! So, I decided to check it out and see what Craig's List had to offer. My mom and I saw 8 places that day. Six of the places were "shares" where one person was looking to find someone to live with them in a 2BR apartment. The apartment I chose was definitely the best of the day. The woman who was my roommate seemed to be the most "normal" of the lot, the rent was reasonable, and the living space was clean, modern, and quiet. Can't beat that in NYC! I jumped at the chance to room with her, and the rest (as they say) is history.

So, here I was arriving in this place after only meeting my roommate and seeing my room once. I had no idea what to expect. When I walk through the front door, there is a black "doorwoman" sitting at the front desk. I tell her who I am and she hands me an envelope with my key. She doesn't smile, gives me the side eye when I thank her for finding my key, and doesn't respond when I say "Have a good one." Welcome to New York...

When I finally make it inside, my roommate is home and we go over some paperwork, and then she heads out for work. My friends Shari and Kim had invited me to have dinner and then to go see "Precious" (GREAT movie, go support it!!) as an introduction to the concrete jungle. I was exhausted, but I figured I'd be good as new after a hot shower and a nap. As I unpacked my duffle and tote, I realized that the one thing I forgot to bring with me is deodorant, so I ask my roommate to point me in the direction of the nearest drug store. She tells me that Duane Reade is about 6 blocks away. Waaaay too far to go for deodorant, in my opinion. So, she suggests that I try this little pharmacy that's a block away from our building. When I cross over to the next block, I'm surprised at how drastically the neighborhood changes. It was then that I realized... I'm in the 'hood! I'm okay with that, but it's still something that you have to be prepared for. I wasn't ready for that sudden realization!

At any rate, I walk into the pharmacy that was really more like a bodega with a few medicine bottles on one of the shelves in the back, and grab some deodorant. Then, I head back to my apartment. When I get inside, there's a different doorman at the front desk, so I walk over and introduce myself. When I tell him my name, he looks pissed.

"You have about six boxes back here, and they're big and they're heavy."

I peek behind the desk and recognize the boxes that my parents and I had shipped on Monday. The same boxes that weren't supposed to arrive until the next day. For once in my life, UPS was EARLY with a package. Of all the dumb luck! Not only that, but the flat-screen TV I'd ordered that wasn't supposed to arrive until Friday was there, too!

"I know you're new here, so I'm sure 'they'll' be more forgiving toward you, but this is a co-op and 'they' don't like packages to stay behind the front desk for too long. If I were you I'd go get a cart from the super and take the boxes upstairs now."

Uh... okay. First of all, who is "they" and, second of all, I was NOT trying to hear that I needed to carry anything upstairs after the day I'd just had. But, duty called, so I schlepped down to the basement to locate the super, found a dolley, and came back upstairs where the doorman half-assed helped me load the boxes on the cart, and then brought them upstairs and began unloading in my apartment. By the time I was done, I was a hot sweaty mess with a broken back... again.

But, I just couldn't bring myself to stay in the house on my first night in New York. So, I showered, dressed quickly, pulled my hair back, threw on some lipstick, and headed to the subway to take my first train ride as a "New Yorker" down to Lincoln Center to meet Shari and Kim for dinner and a movie.

Shari picked a Chinese restaurant for dinner. Now, if you know Brown GIrl, you know that I do not really dig "ethnic" foods. And that includes Chinese, Indian, Caribbean, Ethiopian, etc. So, I wasn't happy, but it wasn't until I sat down at dinner that I realized I hadn't eaten all day! Needless to say, I tore my dinner to shreds... I probably looked like an animal! But I was soooo happy to have my tummy filled that I didn't even care that I probably just looked like a pig in the middle of a very nice restaurant... We headed over to the movie, and that was fantastic... just PHENOMENAL (go see it! Really... GO SEE IT!), but by the end, I was physically and emotionally spent. It had been a LONG day. Kim drives (thank God!), so I didn't have to battle the subway this time... she just drove me home.

But as soon as I hit the front door, Karina called to say she was chillin at a friend's crib nearby and invited me to come hang. Of course, I couldn't say no... it was my first night in NYC! So I hopped in a cab and headed over. The "friends" apartment was a highrise on the 31st floor, and it had panoramic views of the city. Just... SICK views. So I took that in for awhile, chatted with a few other folks who were chillin over there, and then Jenna called and invited us to come have a drink at a wine bar near her apartment in West Harlem. Within minutes, we were out the door and headed crosstown for that drink. Jenna, Karina, and I chatted until about 1am, and then finally called it a night. I was beyond tired, and couldn't wait to hop in another cab (this cab riding WILL stop, because I will NOT go broke over transportation!) to head back to the apartment and spend my first night in my NYC bed.

In all, it was a good introduction to NYC. I had a good first day... long, but good.

And the next few days would be even more entertaining. Trust me...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Doin' It...

My parents kept poker faces about my move to NYC, but I think they were a little sad that I'd be leaving them... and so suddenly! Plus, for the first time in my life, I didn't ASK them what I should do, I TOLD them what I was going to do. Not in a disrespectful way, but I let them know that although I was taking the time to explain my decision to them (which wasn't really necessary, but I felt it was best to at least let them know WHY I chose to relocate) my decision wasn't up for discussion. That was a big step for me! But anyway, they claimed that they totally understood, and they were supportive of me in the best way they knew how. My mom has fragile hands and weak upperbody strength and my dad has had both of his hips replaced and is under strict orders not to lift heavy items. So, they couldn't physically help me move. Instead, they threw their money into the cause and paid for me to have my belongings shipped to me at my new apartment in New York. I couldn't object to that... afterall, it made perfect sense, and it was convenient... and they were paying! Yay, Mom and Pop!

It took me two weeks to pack, and repack, and then pack again, but in the end, I fit my whole life into six large cardboard boxes. On Monday, my parents and I lugged those six heavy boxes to the UPS Store (my mom and I did the lifting and my dad pushed the boxes into the store) and mailed all my crap (sadly, it was mostly clothes) to my new address. I would arrive in NYC on Tuesday, so my mom and I requested that the boxes be delivered on Wednesday afternoon, and we were told that was no problem. My mom's theory on this was that it would give me time to ease into this big change if I could have a low-key night on Tuesday and then wake up on Wednesday and move all my sht into the apartment. I agreed with that assessment and that's the way that I planned for things to occur.

On Tuesday morning, I got up bright and early and my parents drove me to Union Station where I caught a train to NYC. In addition to the six boxes that I'd shipped the day before, I also had a rather large duffle bag (on wheels, thank God!) that was filled to the brim with clothes and shoes and toiletries, and a large tote bag that housed my laptop, digital camera, iPod, reading material, etc., for the train. It was more than 70 degrees when I left, but I needed to bring my winter coat with me and in addition to the two pieces of luggage I was carrying and my incredibly heavy (as usual) purse, I was forced to wear the coat over my black fuzzy turtleneck sweater. By the time I got to the train, I was a hot sweaty mess. And then, I had to figure out how to get my bags on the train.

See, that's why I'd contemplated on taking the bus to New York, because the workers for the bus line will just throw your things onto the bus and then you keep it moving. When you get off the bus, they've already pulled your stuff out for you. It's really a very convenient, easy, and streamlined process. But... as you know, there are tradeoffs. You may end up sitting next to someone who smells, or someone who's crazy, or the bathroom which... smells crazy! It's just a smelly crazy experience, and one that I'm not willing to deal with in exchange for a little convenience. So, this is why on this particular day, I ended up throwing out my back as a result of lifting both heavy bags up onto the train, while three burly and bored-looking Amtrak employees stood by and watched... even after I called out for help.

But, I'm a soldier. I may be small, but I've got heart. And I got those bags onto the train with no help from the blasted Amtrak employees who continued chitty-chatting and smoking cigarettes while I struggled. In the end it paid off because I got to NYC in record time and the train was quiet and nearly empty, so I got a seat by myself and was able to stretch out for the duration of the trip. Nice! When we arrived in NYC, I took my things off the train (hurting my back AGAIN) in the process, and hopped in a cab, headed toward my new home and staring in the face of destiny.

I couldn't have been more excited, but I was also super-nervous. I hate unknowns and the worst thing about this whole process (which, of course, happens to also be the greatest thing about this whole process), is that EVERYTHING is an unknown. My living situation, my job, my social life, etc. What will happen? When will it happen? How will it happen? Will I love NYC and never want to leave? Will I hate it and go running back to DC? Nobody but God knows. But one thing is for certain... whatever happens, I plan to make the best of it. As my father always says "There ain't nothin to it, but to do it." So, I'm gonna do it.

The beginning...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Empire State of MINE

Guess who's bizzack!

Is anybody out there? I hope I haven't lost you. Are you still interested in hearing what I have to say?



Ooookay. Well, I wouldn't blame you if you never came back to this blog again. After all, I totally abandoned y'all and I'm sorry about that. But I'm back and I've got a lot of juicy tidbits to share. So, a lot has changed since the last time I posted. A few months back, I got a little introspective and decided it was time to finally get around to accomplishing some of the stuff I'd been wanting to do for YEARS, but was either too unmotivated or too SCARED to do them. At the top of that list of unfinished business - NEW YORK. How long have I been talking about this?! I've wanted to live there since 1999, so 10 years later... I got tired of talking about it and I finally decided to step out and do something about it.

I started applying for any and every job that sounded even remotely interesting, but I was certain to only apply to NYC employers. I've been stuck in DC for my whole life, and it's been great, but I'm very "been there, done that" about DC. It was just time to do something different. I've felt the pull toward NYC for a long, long time, but every opportunity that's ever opened up to me has been in DC. So, in order to insure that I wouldn't get "stuck" in DC again, my focus was only on NYC employers.

A few weeks ago, I spied a job that seemed perfect for me, so I applied. The next morning, a Friday, I got a call from the Director of the office, inviting me for an interview that coming Monday. I went up on the train (splurged on the Acela even!), killed it, and by Thursday had an offer. The terms of the position weren't perfect, but they were good enough... and it was in NEW YORK! I jumped at the chance, and finally, I could actually say that a dream was being realized... and not by accident. I worked this out purposefully.

So, yesterday, I officially became a New York City resident. I'm living in Manhattan with a roommate who's a Broadway dancer. So far, she's cool... TINY, but cool. Lol! (And you know that if I am calling someone tiny, they're pretty damn small). BUT... it's still early in our relationship! Check back with me in a month to see if that's the only thing I've got to say to about her! But for now, we're getting along quite well. My block is nice and my building is amazing... so, in all, I'm very happy.

But I've got to get used to this city living. I'm used to driving everywhere, wide open spaces, friendly people, chirping birds, and a slow pace. NYC gives me... well... none of that! This will be quite an adjustment, but I'm looking at it as one very EXCELLENT adventure! I'll be chronicling my transition here on this blog, so stick around if you want to hear some very... "interesting"... and inadvertently comedic tales about my life in the big city.

Stay tuned...